Flying taxi startup Blade helps Silicon Valley CEOs bypass visitors – TechCrunch

One yr after a $38 million Collection B valued on-demand aviation startup Blade at $140 million, the corporate has begun taxiing the Bay Space’s elite.

As a part of a brand new pilot program, Blade has given 200 folks in San Francisco and Silicon Valley unique entry to its cellular app, permitting them to ebook helicopters, personal jets and even seaplanes at a moments discover for $200 per seat, no less than.

Blade, backed by Lerer Hippeau, Airbus, former Google CEO Eric Schmidt and others, at present flies passengers across the New York Metropolis space, the place it’s headquartered, providing the area’s rich $800 flights to the Hamptons, amongst different flights at numerous value factors. In line with Business Insider, it has labored with Uber up to now to assist deep-pocketed Coachella attendees fly to and from the Van Nuys Airport to Palm Springs, renting out six-seat helicopters for greater than $4,000 a pop.

Its newest pilot appears to focus on enterprise vacationers, connecting riders to the San Francisco Worldwide Airport and Oakland Worldwide Airport to Palo Alto, San Jose, Monterey and Napa Valley. The objective is to shorten journeys made excruciatingly lengthy as a consequence of unhealthy visitors in main cities like New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Lately, the startup partnered with American Airways to raised set up its community of helicopters, a giant step for the corporate as it really works to combine with current transportation infrastructure.

Blade, led by founder and chief govt officer Rob Wiesenthal, a former Warner Music Group govt, has raised about $50 million in enterprise capital funding so far. To launch at scale and, finally, to compete with the likes of soon-to-be-public transportation behemoth Uber, it must land much more funding assist.

Uber too has lofty plans to develop a consumer aerial ridesharing business, as do a number of different privately-funded startups. Known as UberAIR, Uber will supply short-term shareable flights to commuters as quickly as 2023. The corporate has raised billions of {dollars} to show this sci-fi idea into actuality.

Then there’s Kitty Hawk, an organization launched by former Google vice chairman and Udacity co-founder Sebastian Thrun, which is developing an aircraft that can take off like a helicopter however fly like a airplane for short-term city transportation functions. Others in the air taxi or vertical take-off and landing aircraft space, together with Volocopter, Lilium and Joby Aviation, have raised tens of hundreds of thousands to eradicate visitors congestion or, moderately, to chauffer the wealthy.

Blade’s subsequent cease is India, the Monetary Occasions reports, the place it is going to conduct a pilot connecting vacationers in downtown Mumbai and Pune. The corporate tells TechCrunch they’re at present exploring one further home pilot and one further worldwide pilot.

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